2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale SUV Preview

The Italian automaker’s first plug-in hybrid will be offered alongside a gasoline-powered version

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce Photo: Stellantis

Alfa Romeo has formally introduced the Tonale, a small SUV that will also have a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. It slots beneath the Stelvio SUV, and it will go up against the entry-level Audi Q3 and BMW X1 when it comes to the U.S. in about a year.

Despite the automaker’s claim that the hybrid marks the beginning of a corporate metamorphosis into an alternative-fuel vehicle company, a traditional gasoline version will most likely make up the lion’s share of Tonale sales.

More on Hybrids & EVs

Regardless of the powertrain, each Tonale will come with a non-fungible token, or NFT, which Alfa says is a novel way for a vehicle’s service history to be recorded onto a blockchain.

To be clear, most vehicles’ service histories are recorded into a conventional database associated with the car’s VIN. Alfa says the NFT will increase the vehicle’s residual value by making its service history more transparent, although it is not yet clear how it will improve on the traditional, VIN-based approach.

What it competes with: Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2, Cadillac XT4, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus NX, Mini Countryman 
What it looks like: A smaller-scale Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Powertrains: 256-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 9-speed automatic transmission; 272-hp, 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder/90-kW electric plug-in hybrid powertrain; 6-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive 
Price: $38,000-$47,000, estimated
On sale: Early 2023

CR's Take

Stylistically, the Tonale is an attractive addition to Alfa Romeo’s small vehicle line, looking very much like Stelvio, Jr. Its two powertrains position it well in a fast-growing segment. If the Tonale is anything like its stablemates, handling and performance should be magnifico. In a nomenclatural sense, though, this SUV is an odd duck, if only because Tonale—pronounced toh-nah-lay—may read like “toenail” to some. Then again, those likely to buy an Alfa Romeo SUV may already be in the know.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce

Photo: Stellantis Photo: Stellantis

Outside

As with all other Alfa Romeos since anyone can remember, the Tonale’s signature grille centerpiece—an inverted triangle with rounded corners—sets it apart from the omnipresent herd of SUVs trundling through ubiquitous post-pandemic traffic. BMW does something similar with its twin-kidneys grille, but Alfa adds to that with interesting wheel options and distinctive tail lamps. The overall aesthetic resembles Alfa’s existing rear-wheel-drive-based Giulia and Stelvio models, particularly when viewed from the front or rear three-quarter angles. From the side, the Tonale has more cab-forward proportions that belie its underlying front-wheel-drive architecture.

Inside

The Tonale’s interior is all business, with initial photos showing it to be a drab black. There is more vitality in the lovely red leather interior (shown below) available only in Alfas dressed in red, white, and black exterior paint, an option that will likely be available on at least one of the new SUV’s trim levels.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce interior

Photo: Stellantis Photo: Stellantis

As with other vehicles that fall under the aegis of Stellantis—which in the U.S. includes Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Maserati, and Ram—the Tonale will come with a Uconnect infotainment system that features a 10.25-inch center screen and a 12.3-inch instrument screen in front of the driver. The latest version—UConnect 5—comes with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging, and Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa virtual assistant. We found the UConnect system one of the easiest to use and we hope it stays that way. 

Other controls throughout the interior appear to be pretty conventional, with physical switches and toggles for the climate system and a traditional gear lever located in the center console.

 At 178 inches long, it’s about the size of an Audi Q3. No word on how much cargo space will be available in the Tonale, or if the hybrid version will have more or fewer cubic feet available for stowage behind the rear seats. 

What Drives It

Both the gasoline and PHEV trims will come with all-wheel drive. The conventional gasoline-powered engine will be a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission, and with 256 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, it is one of the more powerful SUVs in the segment.

2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale Veloce driving

Photo: Stellantis Photo: Stellantis

The PHEV is the more interesting option. This trim combines a 15.5-kWh lithium-ion battery, a 90-kW electric motor, and a 180-hp, 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine into a package that can crank out 272 horsepower in total. The system’s small gasoline engine—which will also be used in the Jeep Compass 4xe and is a version of the Fiat Global Small Engine found in models like the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade—drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The electric motor powers the rear wheels. Alfa says the PHEV will go up to 30 miles on electric propulsion alone.

Alfa Romeo will offer its active suspension system in the Tonale. A drive mode selector switch allows the driver to choose different settings that fine-tune the suspension and engine performance to different purposes. There are settings for a softer, more comfortable ride, and also for tighter handling and more lively powertrain performance for those looking for a thrill. There is also a mode aimed at peak efficiency.

There are no official claims yet for 0-60 mph times, either for the gasoline or hybrid versions, and fuel economy estimates have not yet been released.

Active Safety and Driver Assistance Features

Alfa Romeo says the Tonale will come with all the latest active safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, a high-resolution surround-view camera system, and a driver monitoring system that warns drowsy or distracted drivers to pay attention or pull over. It will also come with advanced driver assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control and lane centering, that together form the basis of “traffic jam assist,” which maintains vehicle speed and direction amid heavy congestion.


Head shot of CR Autos Editor, Benjamin Preston

Benjamin Preston

My reporting has taken me everywhere from Baghdad, Iraq, to the Detroit auto show, along the U.S.-Mexico border and everywhere in between. If my travels have taught me anything, it's that stuff—consumer products—is at the center of daily life all over the world. That's why I'm so jazzed to be shining light on what works, what doesn't, and how people can enrich their lives by being smarter consumers. When I'm not reporting, I can usually be found at home with my family, at the beach surfing, or in my driveway, wrenching on my hot rod '74 Olds sedan.